Yes of course everything you're describing are perfectly normal requirements and this is how any developer works. All of this is typical workflow in Orchard. But, Orchard does have a lot of features and works a bit differently to a typical ASP.NET or MVC
project so initially it might not seem obvious where some things are.
I'm developing on my local machine and then deploying to a live server without issues, you just have to find the right workflow that works for you.
Firstly, the database that you create on your local machine can just be published to the server; this works the same as any SQL Server database deployment. The web project can be published thru VS or by FTP, however you prefer to work.
So you can add all your pages, menus, etc., on your local machine and then publish the files and database. This is no different to any other web application.
There are some more advanced workflows available in Orchard that give some extra advantages, and you might want to search the documentation site for information on "Recipes" which allow you to define a set of modules and installation steps. You can also
install the Import/Export module allowing you to export data from your local installation and import it on the live site.
You will also want to install the "Designer Tools" module locally to use the Shape Tracing feature. This will tell you where different parts of the template are coming from and help you create templates in your custom theme to override them.
Obviously there are a lot of topics that you are asking about at once and I think it's better to just focus on small issues at first until you get a better idea of how an Orchard website fits together.
So with your specific problem you desbribe of "From within VS, I can't update the theme. It gives me a read error." Can you describe this in more detail please and maybe we can find a solution:
- What do you mean about trying to update the theme in VS? Updating or installing themes is normally done through the admin UI. Do you mean you are just trying to
edit the theme, in which case it sounds like a simple read/write permissions error.
- Can you post the error you are seeing? It's hard to know what's going on without knowing what the error is!